Otentic: the eco tent experience in Mauritius
Mention glamping and we’re more likely to think of bucolic destinations in rural parts of Europe than an island in the Indian Ocean.
But Mauritius has one special location that fits the bill perfectly, in the form of Otentic: the nation’s first and only tented eco lodge on the slopes of Grande Riviere South East, the longest river in Mauritius.
As glamping destinations go, this site just outside the east coast village of Deux Freres has a lot going for it. The camp is located partway between two of the region’s most popular tourist attractions; Île aux Cerfs and its spectacular turquoise lagoon, and the GRSE waterfall just up river. Both of these make for a popular catamaran excursion departing from nearby Trou d’Eau Douce, but guests of Otentic also have the opportunity to visit by kayak or stand-up paddleboard allowing for a far more personal experience. The lodge has its own small jetty directly on the river, so a day trip to explore the surrounding mangrove forests and other outer islets is an easy option.
Spirit of adventure
In fact, the lodge is particularly suited to those of an adventurous bent. The east coast of Mauritius is far less developed than the west, and is ripe for exploration either by foot or by mountain bike, available to hire free of charge to guests. Follow the well-defined 12km track either on your own, or on a guided excursion, and discover lesser known fishing villages, unspoilt coves and hidden inland views. For those looking to expend slightly less effort, a daily snorkelling trip takes visitors to an idllyic location known as ‘Eau bleu’ for a lazy day on the water.
Safari so good
But what about the all-important accommodation? Otentic is home to two wooden chalets and 12 light and spacious safari tents which sit about 10 feet above ground level on large wooden decks. The canvas tents are protected from the rain and sun by both a fly-sheet and knitted shade net, ensuring they stay both cool and watertight regardless of the weather. We especially loved the rustic-chic vibe inside the tents, particularly in the open-ceilinged bathrooms which are fashioned from planks of reclaimed wood rescued from old Creole houses, giving genuine character to what is essentially a temporary space – not an easy look to achieve. Back in the main living area, beds dressed in crisp white linen rest on large wooden palettes, and smaller upturned versions adorn the walls for storage. Outside, a covered decking area overlooks the river and makes an ideal spot for an early morning espresso before another day of exploration.
As for the food, a continental breakfast made purely from local products is provided daily, and you only have to read Otentic’s online reviews to understand how much visitors appreciate the authentic Creole buffet lunches, evening barbecues and the self-service honesty bar where you’re encouraged to mix your own cocktails and make friends. This communal area, alongside the camp’s small swimming pool, is the social hub and heart of the lodge, so relax with a book, let staff members help you plan your day, or chat with fellow guests about the day’s adventures.
Due to the nature of the tropical climate – cyclones are always a possibility – all the structures on site are quickly and easily moveable. Energy is generated via photovoltaic panels and solar water heaters, rainwater is harvested, and everything is built from wood and recyled materials. As camping goes, this is several notches above the flyaway nylon tent and sleeping bag version we might be more used to, but the “leave no trace” philosophy is still very much in evidence here, and the environmental footprint of the site is virtually zero.
So what kind of tourists opt for a place like Otentic when visiting Mauritius? Unsurprisingly, the lodge is hugely popular with outdoorsy types, but also with families and those looking to experience an alternative to the island’s famous five star resorts. Many people come as part of a two-centre holiday, spending some time at a hotel and an extra few days here. The camp is also popular with locals, so offers a great opportunity for visitors to make friends with real Mauritians and gain a genuine insight into the island way of life.